Consequences of Eating Disorders: Social, Physical, and Psychological

Heather Campbell
 min read

Sometimes the consequences of eating disorders are underestimated.

Consequences of Eating Disorders: Social, Physical, and PsychologicalTheir severity may be attested to by countless patients, medical providers and physicians.

As a whole, eating disorders have consequences so severe that may be life-threatening at worst and socially, physically and psychologically significant at best. Nutrient deficiencies can cause various physical, emotional, and psychological symptoms.

And this is something most patients with an eating disorder don’t realize at all.

Read on for more information. It could be invaluable.

Consequences of eating disorders: Introduction

There are three types of consequences of eating disorders. In fact, different types of eating disorders can have many negative consequences socially, psychologically and physically.

Below we have listed the consequences of eating disorders by area.

Social consequences of eating disorders

  • Spending a lot of money to fund binge eating and buying laxatives, among other things, or becoming extremely frugal (to eat as little as possible)
  • Arguments and conflicts with the environment may occur
  • Unable to follow training at school
  • Inefficient work, resulting in substandard performance and errors
  • Exhibiting withdrawal behavior and not keeping certain appointments
  • Avoidance of situations involving confrontation with one’s own body
  • Difficulty interacting with other people
  • Prefer social isolation

Psychological consequences of eating disorders

  • Exhibit compulsive behaviors such as being addicted to cleaning (especially in anorexia nervosa this occurs)
  • Suffering from mood swings
  • Being irritable and grumpy rather quickly
  • Experiencing a flattening or numbing of your feelings
  • Sensing feelings of loneliness
  • Having anxiety
  • Being dominated by feelings of shame
  • Experiencing stress
  • Disgusted with himself
  • Experiencing sleep and concentration problems
  • Experiencing depressive feelings
  • Having guilt
  • Feeling like you’ve failed in life
  • Suffering from lowered self-confidence
  • Being tense very often

Physical consequences of eating disorders

Consequences of laxation

  • Muscle cramps
  • A disrupted hunger and satiety system
  • Possible occurrence of paralysis and thus irreparable damage to the colon with risk of developing a stoma
  • Less well-functioning colon
  • Low blood pressure
  • Addiction to laxatives
  • Deficiency of minerals and vitamins
  • Arrhythmia
  • Increased chances of cardiac arrest
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Kidney and liver damage
  • Moisture loss and dehydration (rather than weight loss)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting

Consequences of binge eating

  • Weight gain
  • Muscle pain
  • Muscle cramps
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dysregulated hunger and satiety system
  • Heavy sweating
  • Inflammation of the esophagus
  • Stomach and abdominal pain
  • Fast heart rate
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Bloating and nauseous feeling
  • Small intestinal ulcers

Consequences of vomiting

  • Arrhythmia
  • Increased risk of cardiac arrest
  • Degradation of tooth enamel. Teeth can be affected by stomach acid due to frequent vomiting.
  • Swollen salivary glands
  • A dysregulated hunger and satiety system
  • Inflammation of the esophagus with risk of rupture
  • Deficiency of minerals and vitamins
  • Dizziness and often the feeling of about to faint
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea
  • Thirst
  • Sore throat and prolonged hoarseness
  • Dry skin
  • Scars or wounds on the back of the hand
  • Kidney and liver damage
  • Moisture loss and dehydration

Consequences of being overweight

  • High cholesterol
  • Increased risk of diabetes
  • More difficulty moving
  • Respiratory problems
  • Gallbladder diseases
  • Greater risk of arteriosclerosis
  • Sleep disorders and respiratory arrest (apnea) during sleep
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • High blood pressure
  • Joint pain
  • Fatigue
  • Greater risk of illness and death as weight increases

Consequences of emaciation

  • Pain when lying down or even bedsores
  • Headache
  • Bone osteoporosis and increased risk of bone fractures
  • Hair loss
  • Simultaneous appearance of downy hair on the face, shoulders, arms and back
  • Deficiency of vitamins and minerals
  • Blue hands and feet
  • Sleep problems
  • Dental problems
  • Kidney and liver damage
  • Delayed breathing
  • (Sometimes permanent) growth disorders
  • Motor restlessness or urge to move
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Slowed heart rate, arrhythmia, or even cardiac arrest
  • Failure to menstruate and, therefore temporary infertility
  • Drop in body temperature: being cold often
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Dry and flaky skin
  • Degradation of muscle tissue
  • Fluid accumulation in the legs
  • A disrupted hunger and satiety system
  • Disturbed endocrine system

Consequences of eating disorders: Conclusion

The consequences of an eating disorder are profound.

An eating disorder has physical and psychological consequences (loneliness and isolation). Often people with eating disorders are not aware of this.

Eating disorders have severe consequences because food is an essential fuel for our bodies (and the process to recover from an eating disorder also has major side effects!). Nutrient deficiencies can cause various physical, emotional, and psychological symptoms.

In addition, obsessing over food causes concentration problems and can lead to social isolation. After all, it is no longer fun to eat with others when they are eating forbidden foods.

Also, some of the symptoms may be permanent or even lead to death, such as severe heart rhythm disturbance or very severe underweight.

Tip: Read our tips for fighting an eating disorder and find out how to fight it in the best possible way.

About Heather Campbell

As a nutritionist, my field of specialization is science-based nutritional advice but more importantly, it is my goal to share capturing and inspiring stories, examples and solutions which can help plus-size individuals overcome their specific difficulties. Read More